Saturday, October 6, 2012

SALVATORE RENZULLI He chose his names carefully

My grandfather, Salvatore Renzulli, was born in Castelnuovo della Daunia in the providence of Foggia on November 10, 1872 to Pasquale Renzulli and Angela Maria Mazzone Renzulli.   He married Angelina Candeloro Martinelli, and the young couple, like so many others of their generation, planned to escape the poverty of southern Italy at that time by immigrating to America.  Because of a minor health problem, his wife remained in Italy and Salvatore made the journey alone, arriving at Ellis Island in March of 1902.  Angelina arrived 8 months later with their first child, Maria Stella.  After a short stay in Philadelphia they settled on a small farm in Landisville NJ.  They had 10 children: Maria Stella, later name Cornelia, was the oldest, Communardo was born in Philadelphia, and the remaining children were born on the farm: Marx, Ida, Era, Ferrar, Spartaco, and Olga.  Two children, Cipriano and Angelina died before the age of two.

Although he had very little formal schooling, my grandfather was an avid reader with a passionate interest in political and social history and the struggles of the common man.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the names he chose for his children.

Maria Stella was changed to Cornelia (Curly to her family) a Roman woman who spoke and worked for a democratic society 200 years BC.  She is the only woman from that period whose written work has survived. 

Communardo Leonido (known to family and friends as Ren), the oldest boy, was named after the Communards, French Revolutionists who fought against the aristocracy.  Leonido was a Greek patriot who led the defense of democratic Sparta.

Era Spiridanova was named after a woman who led strikes and marches to improve the working conditions in Europe in the early 1900s.

Marx Libero was named after Karl Marx, author of Das Kapital and a leading figure in the Socialist movement that was sweeping Europe in the early 20th century.  Libero translates to “free thinker”.

Bruno Ferrer (known to family and friends as Fatty) was named after Giordano Bruno, a Spanish, Dominican philosopher who was critical of the church.  Francisco Ferrer was a Spanish educator who opposed the churches role in education.  Both men were eventually executed.

Spartaco Diagoro (Duke to everyone) was the subject of recent post.

Cipriano, who died in early childhood, was named after Amilcare Cipriano, an Italian liberal who fought in Italy, France, and Spain, and like all to the other namesakes, was eventually executed.

Cipriano Lenin (Chippy to family and friends) was Cornelia’s first child and Salvatore’s first grandson.  No explanation required for the middle name.

 La Famiglia...circa early 1940s.

La Famiglia...circa 1990s  From L to R...Duke, Era, Fatty, Ren, Dolly.  Seated - Ida

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